live among the fishermen and the derelicts of the riverfront. in fact he lived right here in a houseboat in the book. maccarthy's novel describes the underbelly around 1951 in such detail that some people have questioned whether there is anything actually fictional in the book. he actually even refers to apparently fictional characters by the names of real people who were very similar to the characters in the book. it is one of maccarthy's funniest books but also one of his darkest. it is that book that especially fascinates the maccarthy scholars. maccarthy's final book the road is about a post-apocalyptic world that he describes the city that looks very much like knoxville and even describes the concrete bridge that appears to be the henley street bridge behind us. they are rebuilding it right
books. i'm sorry to hear that. but sure, this is one of amtran robust place here, isn't it? been in a bookstore in ms intellectual cat bill, i'm actually going to ridiculous proportions of the book, which is something i don't do all that much. i certainly don't good on cable television in may for a minute that screaming. i mostly been screamed at, but tonight i'm going to to create a little bit, talk about the book into the thing, which is up in a which just open it up to questions. this is the kind of group you just want to yak with. and i'm sure there's good questions. there's a lot of publicity in the book. at this point a lot of people over at the book so we can actually talk about the book, which is a thing of loveliness for me. you know, the history here, the recent history of courses that the white house got its copy on friday prior to publication.
this is now widely known i got there. and "the new york times" had gotten it the day before, since some of the disclosure -- there's lots in there that wasn't of course noted in this first noisy offerings, but that he came kind of thick dust storm of potion that the publication of the book. at a time that book was ready to be in the bookstores the following tuesday, a few interesting things that have been. the president and the white house clearly it seems some of the signature quotes, quitting the one from a person i know who is near and dear to all of you, larry centers. not here tonight. larry? query clicks and where he says and i think now famously, after an economic briefing he said this quite often. the larry summers home alone rest of us called, where he was believed to set briefing on
various subjects and he would turn to his left and right inside we are home alone. there is no adult in charge. and bill clinton would never make these mistakes. now, larry has a hiss jury for acerbic framing of issues. they say think it's even for him, you know, a pie in the chart. it's interesting because that becomes something that troubled people. summers genius and striking arguments. that this particular skill. people wonder, is clearly flaming this right? every home alone? are we ever anything but home alone? this is one of the things i posit in the book. peter orszag who discusses his feelings about larry's home alone with can actually cite a specific instance, with a sort of discussed it and the follow up to that. he opines about this. i say at the end of the book, you know, the case for
government is to somehow win that fear that although they say think understand that there is no one in charge, that the things that we face in this country, and the global forces that ousted us are beyond anyone's control, even management. in the case for government is that that's not the case, that someone is in charge so we can sleep at night and get on with our lives. in that case is one that this administration has tried to make. i don't think always successfully. they generally get an a for effort is something lower than that an execution in in the game is far from over. so having said that, let me read a couple interesting parts. i don't get to read very much, but this prayer follows this president prior to his president from his days as a senator. it starts in 2007. in the work of narrative come
you try to fit together pieces that create verisimilitude of the life we see day to day. and you do it in present tense. i try not to let that come insane if we knew now what we knew then for an hindsight obviously that's true. i try to walk in the shoes of care nurse. i've done on all five books now. so you can only know what they knew and what we know at this moment. in 2007, in the senate, you know, barack obama is a good 30 points behind hillary clinton. it's an interesting guy, a great speaker. people nearly two dozen for address and phone of the democratic convention, but this is catchy. it isn't working very well. if economic reefing on the first of august, were a team of homophone house but not be the innermost circle. austin goolsby, alan krueger off to the side, others gather and say look, this economy, well, it's not all it's cracked up to
be. and families come, these advisers lay out the evidence that after 30 years of flatlining, or declining income for many groups, you know, we are living on borrowed time. the response was to load up on that, not the debt, more than 100% of gdp. rollover, more than we've ever had 30 arcana such now. now wall street created a terrific model for this. this great debt trading machine is so profitable. by 2007 financial services account for 41% in the united states. unheard of. and that in the old that emile debt-to-equity kind of balances outnumbering equity for the one in terms of the balance sheets and profits of the big financial houses. and really the model -- i'll say this briefly, but the model every now understand and embrace in the kind of capital cartel of the financial capital of new york. this is about to capitals after
all. washington and new york fighting it out for direction of the country. they've been fighting since the beginning of the republic. new york had built an extraordinary confection, where that capital from many good decades in america and some real robust growth of profits, that capital was mostly getting invested overseas. the margins are terrific overseas. you know, no environmental regulations. in china, form a union and you're going to jail. and frankly, child labor, trick profit margins. really good stuff. that's where the money was going. meanwhile in large measure, america burdened even manage a thousand seven was being shorted. i was a place where you sold that. and not just that. your father or grandfather's dad. a new kind of innovation in debt. and not that basically you could sell that -- all kinds of debt
package comes securitize. we didn't know them in 2007. the keywords i could sell them may profit from it, but not be on the hook because i no longer held the risk. i no longer was accountable as the seller that. and it's hand-to-hand to unsophisticated buyers. by your dirty make my money as a big wall street house or a big bang. and then when it goes down and they knew what was going to go down at some point in large measure, essentially i am off the hook. the profits are privatized. disasters are socialized. government will step in and the two big film actors to come. that's where we wear. obama sees this. nec's is through the eyes of characters who are near and. he sees the economy is hollowed out like a rickety structure with a fresh coat of paint. one good speed bump, one gust of wind that thing is going down. he sees that.
he's trouble. a few days later he gets a call on the fourth of august, has 46 per day gets a call from a wall street titan who adores him, a guy named robert wallace had a few beers in america. he's the real deal at any hassey says a nonsexual crush on this guy. he'd take a bullet for them. a lot of people gathered around obama quite stand by him. what a character. haven't had one like him and, in memory. and we'll see standing on the fourth of august on the flying back of a 110 lazzara. that's about in case some of you don't know. a big one from here to the door and twice over. it's got four bedrooms, a library, desalinization system on the boat. and he's up on the debt, the hedge fund manager to use to work for me, hedge fund managers
melting down. it's all going that. the great critic eruption. this is about a week and a half before everyone starts to see it. and this guy sound narrow, hedge fund guy is cursing into the sun. robert advised obama really mostly a contributor he ran a lot of the wall street money raising for obama. he sees the daneyko said to the flying deck of his boat. there's a deck at the top of a little pool on the attack. any cause obama on his birthday. i mean, their friends. he says, happy birth day young man. the chat for a minute about your kids and their wives. obama had called wolf's wife on her birthday to days before. he said basically i haven't been an advisor to you, barack. within a contributor in print, but she's got to see what i've seen from here. we have a market driven disaster coming.
it's a once-in-a-lifetime event that's going to change everything. and wolf lays it out for an inflamed speed, but quite brilliantly. obama sees it. he gets a glimpse of the future on his birthday. where is he on this day? east down in anti-speaking at the southern christian leadership conference convention , and other martin luther king speech. this very day. and obama of course is a student at king. he understands what king said at the end of his life that often was not embraced by others in the movement about economic justice. so let me just read one page. barack obama in just a few days had caught sight of an emerging catastrophe that would again draw together the issues of economics and just as. no one in washington power structure had been presented with a similarly tired and
credible prediction from an axle captain of the wall street bank. that latter group having too much at stake for that level of candor. in such a market driven tidal wave would surely be had for the shoreline but only days before the economist aptly described rickety structures, freshly paved with easy credit, but rotted beneath that has so much of the economic livelihood state government in its weakened state have the power to hold this catastrophe update? and if such a tidal wave wrecked devastation, might it recap basic moral equation by which power and wealth have long been distributed and perhaps even herald a burden by rebirth of the public ideal. when king spoke of giving democracy a full breadth of meaning by altering economic inequity, he was in the midst of his own struggle with a certain duality.
between the transcendent or who stood at lincoln p. to tell of a tree deeply rooted in the american dream and the man who spent a nine years of his life walking the flat earth, struggling to conjure the righteous actions with which to make real the earlier days of fusion of noble purpose. a week after that national cathedral speech in washington, king's death in memphis would leave behind on the image of the man asked a million is an old friend, giving voice to an extent. , perhaps big enough to bridge americans on duality between noble ideal and the times and noble action between print and the times and noble action between print and the times and noble action between print just, word and deed. obama accurately understood how people painted their longing onto his welcoming presence. the earnings you try not to harness in a series of tangible change. if he could manage it, you may
finally cash kings promissory note to stand his right hand raised at the other end of the mall is the culmination of a centuries long struggle for civil equality and as the torch bearer for king's second dream of equality of opportunity upon which to found a true democracy. obama had seen the longing in the eyes of the crowds already. i know we had not yet found a way to tap this longing, he understood on some level that his fortunes rested on how he could craft narratives and his toe into a shared vessel for the hungry. the forces of change are now a play. obama finished up the conversation with wolf, robert wolf, is wall street and former and turned his attention to policy that in a speech. like so many he had given, it would strive to conjure the spirit of king or at lease is.
embodied in that well-worn image of the man. now those hard questions of economic justice gathered around him. those questions at the second less familiar king gathered in the area but the clouds of a coming storm. obama gives a glimpse that he does that. he is the height of the curve. he gathers around him in the fall of 07 in the spring of 08, an ecumenical team led by paul volcker, democrats and republicans, the sec chief and rubber rice to one of your favorites here. you know, they are altogether. robert wolf, the wall street titan are together because they're afraid. people are feeling the shutters on the landscape. they are feeling a shake. and obama right from the start is saying the things that almost no one else has seen. they need to reform the
financial capital. we need to reform the system of credit. we need to make it work for the american economy rather than in so many ways against it to kill off the volatility that we feel even now as the run up and down the parabola says theodore just in the last two weeks. he got it. and folkers really his type. volcker is in the book and some people say he's a hero. i'm not big on heroes or villains. the reporting is the reporting, but walker speaks with force in this book. read many, many lunches, talked across almost two years. in poker is the kind of "avatar," the champion of tough love. after greenspan's demise for the most part, having pushed forward the bubble across 20 years, one bubble to the next, all of a sudden people say what about the previous fed chairman? he choked out in 79, 80 and 81,
but he killed inflation and he set the predicate for so much of the expansion reagan would take credit for. ultimately he says errata. i'm not reacting and because volcker was not a believer in the deregulation that reagan was such a champion of. he says that doesn't get us anywhere. they need rules of the road. they've needed them since roosevelt and they still need them. a nation wall street is not the answer. he returns to stay and all 68 of them behind obama, credibility. this team has sized up by the sun or two dozen eight as travel. travel for another team. i called mtbe. and that is the team lead for the most by robert bruton, more attuned and tied to wall street. rubin of course the former goldman scheier, treasury
secretary under clinton and now the citigroup chief, wall street saw to this poker let team inside my god, if they get into office with this new president, we are toast, plain and simple. and they plotted their counterattack. the counterattack was get our people in the key jobs. interestingly, something i found out what sort of surprises me in their status that finance disclosures, that you say my goodness, robert rubin was actually offered and the latter days of the campaign a dollar a year job to have an actual office in the west wing when obama was thinking i might win this thing. of course by the late fall, by october, city group is collapsing and that's untenable. but tim baker and larry summers, they get the jobs. what happened there? why didn't volcker that team get
last. obama will reflect on this in his memoirs, but there's a lot of evidence at this point that the things that are natural have been. you know, here is a man that is not an expert in finance or economics. he of course is an extraordinarily brilliant man. but you know, he broke into the league and set tender divesting mccain on these very issues. he spent so much time at this wall street gang and advisors, mccain was no match for obama. even hank paulson republicans are like that guy kind of gets it. and this other fellow mccain is not even buzzword compliant on this staff. and when obama breaks into the leak, you know, the book is sympathetic. an outcome they are trying to feel with the feeling? if you feel at ease dealing as best as a writer can write area,
you get a sense of what i call it a good enough reasons. i have abilities from a book that's what i call it good enough reasons rule. i learned it's dealing with leaders of my first book. you know, it was so easy to be judgmental. these guys are wrecking havoc. but he said now, if i judgmental it's because i don't understand it represents. if not the intent was to action, anything you can see. they may not be your reasons are fine but if you know a person almost as well as you can know another in u.k. why they do what they do. and it often is quite clear and discernible, even rational in some cases. i'm always looking for the good enough reason not to care her's and i want to know that for obama, the essential that there is this time. all of a sudden he breaks into the lead just like one of those that robert redford candidate moments. what do we do now? he's got two old washington.
he has detained new york. he has to keep us from what looks like a coming depression. and caution, cousin of fear grips it. how could it not? and at that moment, the more progressive activist group and make them democrats and republicans both the team a, who i don't know if i can manage that haiku. and he goes to team b. and they are very good at speaking the words of caution. pros from dover, men have been there. we serve bill clinton's. we know where the lovers are supposed. a in there. larry summers chief economic adviser tim geithner treasury secretary, rahm emanuel chief of staff was born. obama didn't listen. you know, remember the whole thing between hillary and obama, the judgment versus experience?
hillary said experience than obama said judgment. it was a nice retort. he seemed to be a man who weighs confused at the clarity of judgment. i think obama would now say experience is important as well. but he makes judgments to bring in this team and significantly the die is cast. there are movie moments here. you know, i was at the last rally, his last speech of the campaign. cordelia come my wife and i both went manassas, virginia, a 21 month run, and heroic were really out of the midst, i know where to capture the imagination of the nation and fear. in that last rally of manassas, virginia you could not be -- you could not avoid being moved. i mean, my eyes welled up. you know, tenet thought,
10:30 at night a chilly night, his last speech before he flies to chicago to vote and play basketball and see how the cards fall. you know, here we are just four miles away from the battlefields. we are 147 years before the rebel yell sounds out she started earlier chat to your other often painful american journey. and now on this night, people come from all over. i mean, not just professional types accustom washington. it took us five hours to go 20 miles. and we left the car miles away to just walk, but also people from trailer parks in northern virginia who can afford to live near where we live. and of all races, latino americans, asian americans come african-americans certainly. and then there are guys with
confederate flags and gun racks. they are there, too. 100,000 people in the field and obama steps up on that stage and the cry that went out for themselves. i can still hear it. i think many of us can hear it. which is why some of this is hard. and maybe we are part of this, too. of course we are. this is a conversation between a leader in the people. we're all in it together. how could we not have painted our yearnings on this guy? and await their surrogates have you arrive so withal that he was able to draw from a can then send back to eyes and those extraordinary turns a powerful rhetoric. but the next night but the next night but the next night but the next night stepping back, the acute just or not it, the
pressure of it. you know, he tells axelrod no fireworks. two celebratory. i mean, he's waited his whole life for this moment. the man wrote his autobiography at 33. that is already a step away assessing that. he gives his speech, which is a great speech, a fine speech. but then he walks off the stage in the shell waiting for him. it's her mama, too. she puts up her hand for the high-fiving hli takes in this now, now, not tonight. he's feeling the burden of history. he's saying, am i up to this? and even the inaugural speech, 2 million people freezing their buns off, screaming, cheering, people dancing in capitals around the world. it was a flat speech.
people were disappointed. but whatever. i was there for the moment. i think, what would reagan have done? i shudder to think what reagan would've done. use the inspiration. just go with it. but it's amazing when it gets into office. it's almost like he's not going to manage these expectations anymore. just libertad. he couldn't predict what this was like to be the actual president, to be in the corner with room. and you can see in february and march, obama saying i can do this. i can manage this. and has objects, his focus is of course not just on health care, which he says will be the priority. yes, that will be my legacy. then of course the great crisis. a melting economy in the
financial system and of course the crisis of jobs that we still live with. and he did some steady income as a reading. he was reading a lot of paul krugman. and the economic briefings of his clear intent. but obama was sort of self schooling. give me a copy of that. yeah, that's good. what does he come up with? he says i want to be sweetened, not japan. does this construction come into february. sweetened belt out his banks. they nationalize them, close them, cut off while as to business model and let the banks recover slowly. they basically turned banks into a boring spine of economy rather than a casino. sweetened burst back, japan, they did what we're doing now. just fill them out. restore them, use governments effort as best you can. we can't live without whatever they are, whatever that business
model is. that's two decades of stagnation in japan. for now three years into a very similar model. obama gets the sense is to be sweetened, not japan. with happiness havoc inside his economic team. summers and geithner, old friends like emmanuel. these guys have known each other forever. her conversations with another is as important as what they say the president. summers and geithner embraced this notion of hippocratic race. first do no harm. this is a very, very difficult thing to challenge. almost everything does harness pulled. obama here says. find, find some of the tears i want to do. he must dictate down, wind down some of the big banks and reopen them. he wants to kill off they feared that will have another layman style disaster from one of these today to fill banks. he says that the fear that's holding us back, keeping us from
building and growing and investing. cake or opposes them. even summers jumps on the side of the president. he's against geithner. if everyone against geithner. the president, kristi roemer, larry summers and 10 is the guy with his finger in the date. advisors are there to it guys. they are experts. that is why presidents hired that, whether in economics for national security. they are supposed to no more than the president. ..
people are hurting. this will be vista forward. basically tim geithner think ec doesn't know what he is talking about. he needs to be protected from himself. after this meeting where tim talks about his plans on the stress test, basically a way to support the banks through the federal purse. tim wants to carry that forward and obama says fine. ultimately ends up backing off a little bit so just citigroup with 200 billion left in the t.a.r.p. fund. i want a plan on how to do it. a month passes. they are in the oval office. i have meeting after meeting in the book. every person inc. with this book. there is not a person in the room that is not in here co-op
reading. everyone affirms all the stories. make no mistake. we in washington called non-denial, denial. remember that from all the presidents men? that is a non-denial denial. i do remember that. i was on venus that day. it is hearsay. what's that mean? i don't know. in this meeting a month later, the president says, what about that citigroup? the wind-down plan, the resolution plan. that is the key arrow in our quiver. summers would say romer back and forth nervously at one another, they had been watching over the last couple of weeks and nothing is happening in treasury. finally christie romer says mr. president, actually there isn't any plan for citigroup. obama says, there had better be.
what do you mean there is no plan? all of a sudden romer feels emanuel's gaze on her. the meeting breaks up and emanuel -- emanuel is livid. he says i can't believe she said that without tim geithner being here to defend himself. forget about the material issues. summers reports system, minutes after yes, yes christie. rahm was livid. christie i defended you. she is right. there isn't a plan. i asked the president about this. it wasn't an easy moment in our interview at the end of the process. i said you were agitated. i am not sure agitate it would be the exact word i would use. what did you say to tim? i don't remember exactly. the bureaucracy wasn't moving as fast as i wanted.
i'm not sure if you would call your treasury secretary the bureaucracy but it is a term of art i suppose. this stuff was just hard, ron, harder than i could've imagined to come up with solutions. i talked to geithner too. it is in the book. into pages he affirms that he did what is shown he shown in internal memo's. he slow walk the president. what does that mean? it is reflected in the memo in february of 2010 from a shadow chief of staff are brilliant washington actor who who was chief of staff in the obama senate office where he talks about the fact that mr. president you would need to assert accountability in this building. in the treasury department economic team disagrees with one of your decisions, not his wondering, his decisions, they relitigate the whole policy, meaning they ignore you.
this cannot stand. you know, and even after that, when they disagree they slow execution. they drag their feet. you need to assert leadership. you need to take control of the building. this forms a blueprint that helps obama learned to be president. it takes a year or year and a half even for skilled men or in the future women, former governors, executives to manage this most complex managerial organism. it is a matter of growth. the bad luck for obama and some might say looking back for us in the wider country. he arrives at a moment of crisis and opportunity. the yin and yang there, without any of that key experience in executing power.
it is hard to get anywhere and execute power. but he does not manage it and there is a lot of chaos in that first year. and it is not just to take down of the banks. you know, meeting after meeting he is essentially trapped in the larry summers debate society. some people might buy tickets for that right now we are at a difficult time and they go back and forth. do they want to do deficit reduction or new stimulusstimulus, back-and-forth, can't decide. obama naturally again get in his shoes. he says i need the comfort of consensus essentially. i want my team to come to consensus so i feel the confidence to make these suppositions. of course he is an extraordinarily interlocutory. is pushing and he doesn't get consensus and the result is paralysis. and he is in the doldrums and
very little occurs during that seminal first year. all the way to 2010 rows rights the memo's. obama, he is seeming to grow and breathe deeper and that whole team is out the door in the next couple of months, the first team he brings. now after the midterms, obama well, people said it was like light shone in the windows in the white house. pete ross became the chief of staff. the guy had known obama from the start. obama at one point said something very poignant and something moving. the moment of doubt, the moment of confusion he says to one of his aides, i don't want the rest of the aids, i don't want them to see me like this. i'm just not sure of myself basically. my god, who of us would have
managed better? rouse becomes the interim chief of chief of staff and obama says i can do this myself. he engages yea or nay, you may disagree but he engages on the bush tax cuts. he traded from a lot of stimulus, no doubt about it in terms of unemployment benefits are the payroll tax. there is a boost. he says and make the trade in the death of himself with mcconnell, passes something like 82-16 or something in the senate, unheard-of. and his number start to go up. then he gives that extraordinary speech which many of you heard after the tragedy, after give -- gabby giffords was shot in tucson and then he brings in the new staff. when i'm interviewing him in february he is god bin laden in the crosshairs. so at the end of the book obama is feeling a kind of a recovery,
a resurgence and he talks about that in the last interview. some of it is you know both illuminating but a little unsettling too. that will just read the last part and then we will open it to questions. what is interesting about this last interview is, he is dealing with this issue of confidence. that is why the book is called "confidence men." there are some folks on wall street who i sort of call conmen and i don't think any of them are here but, yeah, shock i know. gambling in casablanca. the fact is in the other capital, our political capital the battle between these two capitals, obama understands as we all do confidence is the point of the realm. it was that way and it has been that way throughout our history. roosevelt restores it establishing his legacy. kennedy sparks it for that grade
robust period that he wants and reagan of course is a master, exuding confidence no matter what the underlying facts may be. and we have a moment in the interview. i will tell you this funny little story because it is something that has been mentioned on some of the coverage but i never got through it. in the interview, 45 or 46 minutes. this is basically obama in the chair and i'm in the couch. something happened that was a stroke of good luck, spat it is kind of the canned -- kindred to this one. is called politics and prose. it is our bookstore, our great bookstore and i'm there and i write in the basement blog,, innotech bay. i have an office behind my house for that kind of neat to get out sometimes just to see another living breathing person so i write to the people there.
i am an exhibitionist rider, writing to an audience and a pretty good audience just like you. i am writing there and tapping away and the guy in the bookstore comes out. jimmy carter is upstairs. whatcom are you kidding? he is up there signing books. carter is doing a reading. he is doing the preliminary signing. oh my god. and i'm about to interview obama. i am going to be interviewing him soon so i say okay, maybe there is a bit of opportunity here. now carter has written this book called white house diaries. and i asked carter, go up there and i say he is up there signing away and i said president carter, ron suskind. how are you doing? and he is the most affable guy in the world. i could eat apples off of his head. head. he is solely that big and at my height that is saying something. i said white house diaries, what is going on with that? here's the thing.
icy obama is dealing with a lot of the same issues we dealt with in the 70s. i said, i have diaries on a lot of the stuff so i'm going to get the diary out. i am like, really? so i grab one of the diaries and he is signing away. i'm cribbing pages. got a come up with something. i light on the diary entry that he pence in there after his last debate with reagan. now it is very emblematic and carter writes in there, basically we get off policy points and we talked about constituents and we are going to get into the pulse so i think i won. reagan did his optimism thing but i think we won this thing. months later there's another diary entry which basically says disregard previous entry. [laughter] and i asked carter about that.
that is a nice little parity. did you hit a good do well? no doubt. you know what it is. it is confidence. i didn't understand how it worked really and i thought about that for 30 years. reagan got that. i didn't. but i thought this obama guy, thought he understood how confidence works. i'm not so sure now. in the oval office i break out the story to obama. he is like, really? now of course, comparing oneself to carter is for no good reason you know, a dangerous thing to do for a president. carter is the thing you don't want to be. i think that is wrong but it is just the way it is.
what obama talked about carter as i bring it up. he says carter and clinton suffer from what i call the policy wonks disease. he calls it a disease, sort of like we feel like we are going to win like in high school in high school debater something. and he says i'm getting over that. i'm not quoting him exactly but basically that is what he said. i don't want to be legislator in chief. you know i have a technocratic inclination. i am working on it. and that idea very much like kennedy with this best and brightest, understand understands how one gets into office. bring the smartest people in the room, close the door and you are going to come up with some beautiful glorious integrative solution and it ain't going to happen. it doesn't happen. obama has spent two plus years
locked in the policy room and he says it ain't enough. and then he addresses for a president who is kind of -- nearby. reagan. let me read what he says and we will be done and we will talk to each other. he, reagan to obama says was very comfortable and playing the role of president. and i think part of that was really his actors background. the republicans hate this sort of thing but that is what he says. and he betrays -- were trays a hint of andy. it would be so easy to be able to flip that switch. but as he edged closer to reagan obama seemed to squirm a bit in his chair, sort of trying to get comfortable. looking back over his life obama
said, and he and his life always took pride, obama and pushing against artifice and not engaging in a lot of symbolic gestures but rather thinking practically. obama says this with pride and i think the evolution that happened in the campaign was me recognizing that if i was going to be a successful candidate, then the symbols and gestures mattered as much as what my ideas were. and who could deny reagan's mastery, his actors grinned? this is me talking of symbols and gestures. no one can know what it is like to be president tell they are one and then they have to decide how much of what they feel sitting in that lonely room they ought to reveal. people deep down suspect that the life of a nation like that of each of us is shaped by forces well beyond our control,
beyond the earnest efforts and best laid plans just as we all tend to learn at some moment of discovery that those grown-ups who once seemed so assured and certain were neither. as the nation wrestled russell davis do this period of maturation, obama considered how to reconcile his hard truth with a working definition of confidence in a world that often merits anything but. the age-old theory after all is that we are in fact home alone, that there is no one in charge. the role of government is to make a convincing case to the contrary so everyone can get on with their lives and an aged good nights sleep. obama, a brilliant amateur, arrives to powers pinnacle believing he would make his case with with a show of demonstrably correct answers to complex
problems, solutions. he competently executed to launch what he called the new era of responsibility. it hadn't worked quite that well. the natural confidence, quite real that more than anything is what got him elected now firmly along a more dynamic i will do it myself model of leadership. going forward as president obama said straightening up in his chair, the symbol and gestures, what people see coming out of his office were at least as important as the policies we put forward. i think we are the -- where the evolution is taking place looking into the middle distance is understanding that leadership in this office is not a matter of you being confident and of course this is after a 45 minute
interview about how is confidence came about. not about you being confident. leadership in this office as a matter of helping the american people feel confident. so thank you for listening and let's talk about your confidence in the q&a. thanks. [applause] okay, who first? how about you? why don't you say your name. steve. >> the why is geithner still there? he is the one that is holding everybody back. you read in the paper that obama wants him to stay. >> you know it is a question i get asked a lot, you know. their relationship is plumb in the book. i could go through it. geithner is a very handy player.
is a bit of a passive/aggressive thing as people talk about. he laughs and then kutcher throat. you know but that is what it takes. where the world's most powerful nation and these are the men around the world's most powerful man. it takes quite a skill set to survive out there and geithner does survive and interestingly he sizes up the situation. he sees that his old pal larry summers, who i think well, it's clear he is not happy with geithner as things progress. summers remember wanted the fed chairman's job. geithner actually a report in the book brand the selection process for whether or who might replace bernanke. summers of course couldn't be involved with the leading candidate. part of this deal coming in was to take a so-called staff job meeting in the white house.
okay i will do this but when bernanke's turn comes up in the summer, is going to be decided in the summer of the next year. i'm your man. i think summers says obama said yes he will you will be and he feels a bit a trade but also he knows geithner rand the selection process and i think summers feels that geithner was was -- in his praise of the fed job. it was a breach. meanwhile geithner is watching his best and brightest high iq larry summers debate society obama is ever more feeling trapped in an geithner sets himself up as the default. he often doesn't say much in a lot of these meetings. he is holding his cards close but when obama is frustrated and often not sure what to do he often defaults to a geithner plan for caution. usually a plan for not doing a great deal, plan for keeping the system in america, the structure
as it is an ultimately geithner and that being the last man standing. their relationship will be in both men's memoirs of something of great interest in washington. geithner did want to leave. obama said please stay and it may have to do with the kind of relationship you but you see with presidents. you know that loneliness that obama sort of talks about. you know you sometimes need to someone -- someone to come in the broom brim with you and close the door. explain that to me again. why are we in this box? over that part of third time. he did a lot of that in not in the way that larry did very many instances you see obama trying to get information, reports without them going to summers. so he can challenge summers more effectively in the meetings. summers is supposed to get everything but he is saying to orszag at one point, just give
that directly to me. is that okay, peter? will that get you into trouble? and orszag goes, i can do that for you, yeah mr. president. will you know, i don't want you to get into trouble. and orszag is like, you are the president. you can do anything you want. part about was that obama was trying to muscle up to challenge summers and geithner but especially summers. geithner watches all of this and he ends up playing it beautifully. okay, another question. how about you? >> your thesis is that obama's philosophy is that government and the interest of government is the force that will allay a person spears but is that obama the government? isn't obama the icon of government? he was the most is that would part the sea of government and
that expectation is never been met. he has seceded all that power to harry reed, to the congress and he is perceived consistently as being overly passive and to consensus seeking where in fact leadership is decision-making. see that is a great point and i know he is the man. he is the guy at that moment and again it is the kind of lyrical capital. you know i had lunch today with bob kuttner and kuttner are saying this is the only opportunity and 80 years. this is more than a generational opportunity to alter the basic imbalances or structures and american life. what is interesting is i think obama, and he talks about i want to be a more dynamic leader at the end of the book but what he doesn't take into account, which is i think right to your point, as you are not going to come up
with a clear, brilliant pristine integrated solution and the policy shop and then unveil it and convince especially republicans that is it and i will follow you. is like the upton sinclair thing. i'm not going to get it right but they are going to continue to oppose you. it is nothing personal mind you. is just the way it is. obama thinks he is so persuasive and his solutions will be so beautiful that they have to give. well, they don't. what he has forsaken and what is not given credit is the dynamism of leadership. periodically ask axelrod and others are like, get out there. just say this is what you want to do and don't flinch. what you will see is the tumblers will click and the plates under the surface will start to shift and move in that dynamic process is the one that creates the opportunities of leadership. obama wasn't doing that an ultimately i think he is frustrated because of it. there are moments that are fascinating where he knows the
best thing he says is i can give an amazing speech and he knows that. that is my skill but time and again what he finds like after the great cairo speech in the spring of 2009 which is just gripping. i have seen it, watch it and read it 10 times. so much along the lines of the book i just written but i couldn't sum up anything like obama does. it was stunning. after that speech is like, but we need is a policy that is partisan in the speeches. we didn't have one. you know the streets of iran and tehran start to royal. imagine this. the words of a president can cause the capital of one of our arch enemies to become a place of disruption, just the words. but he said we had no publicity. we need policy. pcs that but he can't manage it and the health care speech, one more thing because it is
fascinating. obama at the end of the summer when he doesn't engage on health care and says it is my number one priority and he vanishes. he leaves tom daschle, like where they? tom daschle doesn't get the big job but he is still an adviser. he says i can't get a call and for two months. it is a black hole in there. he is losing in march and april and in today the most important two months and 15 years on health care after he steps up saying this is my priority with all of this promethean power obama nothing happens. and he forgets that and gives it to baucus in the senate and the tea party is taking up in the summer. obama says i need to give a speech. the biggest speech of his first year. and rahm says you have to wait till the end because you only get one shot. he makes a decision and again he
doesn't make a lot of these but this is one he makes. he calls it the brilliant speechwriter. the guy is 14 to 15 years old. it's unbelievable. how did that happen? the guy says he is brilliant and they have this bond. it is kind of the fusion of the youth movement that follows obama and they are ripping off of each other. is a great speech and the ted kennedy letter you know about that. obama puts it right in there and what is interesting at this point is there is a little debate going on alongside obama because obama says i want a policy out there to harness the speech meaning we have a fully -- they had it on the show. he basically said we are not going to be that specific. that was emanuel's position.
but obama is like i want the full plan released contemporaneously with a speech in front of the joint session. i've made my decision. then he goes back to writing his speech but there is a debate going on because the manual is like, he is wrong. he doesn't know what he is talking about. we are releasing a two-page bullet point sheet. that's it. orszag is like no, release the whole plan. no, two-page bullet points. ride it to the speech there is a meeting where they are debating and obama writes in the meeting and he clearly thinks they are releasing the whole plan. the speeches -- it's just right before the speech and orszag goes mr. president you ought to know what is going on. but mr. president -- a manual. orszag clams